Thinking again about Convergence: is the problem the people rather than the technology?
Chair: Martin Gill
Emma Boakes – PhD Research Student at University of Portsmouth (UK)
Louisa Schneller – Risk & Security Management Software Consultant at TeamMacro OÜ (Czechia)
Dawn Holmes – Global Physical Security and Technology Specialist at GKN Automotive (UK)
Darrell Darnell – DTE Consulting LLC and JSS Consulting Inc (US)
Louisa Schneller notes that although convergence has been around for a long while we are still arguing about a definition and the adoption rates are far from impressive. In discussing the factors needed to make convergence happen she points to the importance of understanding the human factors; the need to have an informed champion to argue the case; and the need for someone with business skills to relate convergence to the organisation, important because every organisation is different. Louise argues especially for committed leadership providing a basis for engaging staff; and she underlines the importance of fostering diversity. Looking at these factors one can see why convergence may not be widely adopted, it is not easy; not easy to initiate in the first place and not easy to implement.
Emma Boakes draws on a broader experience of analysing convergence in a non-security context. Her contention is that rather than seeing either people or technology as a problem she focusses on the broader interactions that can help facilitate convergence; between people and with technology. For Emma the so called ‘soft skills’ are too often underestimated; they are important and they are difficult. She argues for a system to get people engaged and underlines the importance of training, and a good company culture that is conducive to convergence. There is no magic bullet, and there is no substitute for recognising that people are important, that their needs need to be understood, it should not be assumed, as it often is, that they are ready or prepared to make convergence work. This can happen when technologists look at convergence as a system to be implemented which is an oversimplification. Just adding to workloads does not make convergence work.
Dawn Holmes believes people are the weakest link. Interestingly she notes that end-users are blamed too often when things don’t work which she argues is, lazy, easy to do but all too often erroneous. When systems are designed those responsible are not always best placed to consider the human factors, there is a tendency to look at solutions rather than the interdependencies and it is end-users who suffer through a lack of engagement. Dawn calls for a mindset change, and she too promotes the importance of soft skills; the importance of leadership championing the cause; and the organisation making a commitment to win the hearts and minds of people (and end-users in particular). Dawn herself champions the value of and adopting a common language, and of understanding the needs of all stakeholders in the convergence implementation process so they can be properly engaged. As she says, people need to be prepared to ask stupid questions.
Darrell Darnell notes his own background in responding to emergencies has provided an insight into how parts of an organisation work together. In looking at the factors that make convergence a success he underlines the importance of communicating effectively. He too notes that converging is not easy, one cannot take for granted that it is easy to unite behind one culture and approach, not to engage with different parties not least when security as a function has all too often adopted an insular approach. As he says the decision to converge is easier than what it takes to make convergence happen where, for example, different parts of the organisation can often think differently about process, and use different tools. There is a need for leadership to explain why convergence is important and get buy in, and a prerequisite to doing this well is to take time to understand ‘why is this important to you’; it is often a crucial missed step.
In this webinar we learn that while convergence is a popular concept, in practice it can be difficult to implement. It may seem entirely logical, but too often that narrative has got in the way of understanding the realities. Anyone listening to this webinar will understand why convergence, despite being a popular idea, is also not an unqualified good.
15th April 2021